This may sound clunky but it’s a tricky topic to discuss. Unconditional love. It’s something we all want. It’s something I don’t think we truly understand.
When we think of “unconditional” love, we think of loving someone no matter what they say, think, or do. Humanly speaking, it’s unachievable. Heavenly speaking, unconditional love is not the safety net you think it is.
Jesus teaches a lot about love but teaches even more about the greatness of God the Father. Life is not about love. Life is about our insufficiency and God’s saving power through Jesus.
Life is not all about love, love, love. Life is about our collision course with wrath. We are riding a runaway train headed for the edge of the cliff with no barricade in view. Doom is our destiny. We have a date with destruction. Death looms.
We think we need love. What we actually need is a Rescuer.
I appreciate the simple brilliance of the words I heard this morning from well-known theologian RC Sproul. In an old video, I heard his input on a panel discussion where speakers dissected how dangerous it is for us as Christians to preach “unconditional love” to non-believers as a way of enticing them into faith.
“There is no understanding of the good news apart from the bad news,” he said. “Christ came into the world that was already under universal indictment for rejecting God the father, for living in a sense where the clear revelation of God (as you pointed out Steven) was made manifest to every human being. But, our nation is so fallen that we don’t want God in our thinking. We don’t want God in our minds, and we want so much to win people to Christ we will do everything we can to hide from them the reality of the wrath of God. We don’t tell them that every moment that they refuse to repent that they are heaping up wrath…
“It’s because we’re out there telling them that, ‘You don’t have to be afraid of God. God is so nice. It’s Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood’.”
Earlier in the discussion, Sproul referenced Proverbs 15:9, which says (NIV) “The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.”
Unconditional love is the bullseye we shortsightedly aim for to the detriment of the truth. Yes, God loves you because He made you. No, that love won’t override a lack of submission. We are accountable to God. That’s why the road to Heaven is not heavily traveled.
“God loves the sinner he just hates the sin. But he doesn’t send the sin to hell. He sends the sinner.”
Yes, Christ wants us to be reconciled to Him but He won’t allow us to broaden the parameters of what’s deemed acceptable. Love is important but not what we need. Mercy is what we need. In showing us mercy, Christ is demonstrating love. We can’t confuse the two.
Preaching that God’s unconditional love punches our ticket to salvation is folly. Hopefully nobody is doing that. There is a formula for salvation and there is no room in that formula for unrepentant disobedience whilst holding fast to the notion that God’s loving nature will wipe away transgression. It doesn’t work that way. God does love you despite your mistakes, but he doesn’t love you enough to allow your sin to soil his Kingdom.
Leaning on God’s “unconditional love” as a safety net weakens God’s criteria for Heaven. It is not a way to pull in more believers. In fact, doing so is disrespectful to Christ and detrimental to the faith. If Christianity weren’t exclusionary to a degree, it would cease to be Christianity. It would be a warm and fuzzy “feel good” movement ushering people into eternal destruction.
The comments from Sproul came from a YouTube clip posted by Truth According To Scripture on Aug 26, 2014.